(First Published June 2015)
By D Kaihennneh Sengbeh/Freelance Journalist
“They are sitting down and doing no intervention on this road,” he complained. By the middle of July if nothing is done at all, this whole Bardnersville road will cut from the rest of Monrovia,” the middle-aged citizen, riding on a motorbike along with this writer from Bardnersville Junction to Bardnersvile Estate, angrily lamented Wednesday evening (June 17, 2015).
By the time we arrived at our destinations, our trousers’ legs were already soiled as a result of the many pot holes filled with water that even the world’s best motorcyclist cannot escape.
While the just-come William Gyude Moore and his engineers might be restlessly working on revamping roads and bridges leading to the southeastern region for the hosting of this year’s Independence Day celebration (July 26), which is under only five weeks from now (at the writing of this article), his ability to adequately manage the country’s cumbersome infrastructure challenge is on the line in Montserrado — more especially in Gardnersville, Bardnersville, Johnsonville and Dixville.
Incontestably, citizens of all works of life are facing the bitter consequences of the deplorable conditions of the Bardnersville road that connects tens of thousands of people—taxpayers, civil servants, students, business people and even top government employees — and communities with the rest of Monrovia.
The stretch of road is very vital to thousands of citizens residing in Johnsonville (an expansive community where citizens have cried for better feeder roads for years), Dixville, Caldwell-New Georgia, and most especially the late 70s government-built populated E. Jonathan Goodridge Housing Estate (Bardnersville Estate) among several others in the vote-rich suburb of Monrovia.
Residents are even agitated that the township plays host to top government officials and lawmakers including Senator Dan Morias, Representatives Gabriel Nyenka, Bohfal Chambers and several other influential officials who are making “no efforts” to either pressure or convince authorities of Public Works to put the road in shape.
“These officials are money people who are able to buy car parts and don’t care what happen to the ordinary cab men and the people on a daily basis,” argued a taxi driver describing himself as “Pat Boiling.” He said “I hate to see some of them with their big, big cars on this road; they are not ashamed at all; I Pat Boiling say so.”
The road is dotted with countless expanding potholes and deepening gutters in many areas, causing serious impediments for smooth vehicular and pedestrian movements. Besides contributing to several minor accidents in recent weeks, the bad state of the road has caused serious damages to vehicles—affecting under-carriers and tyres, among others. Motorcycles and vehicles are seen daily struggling for the better parts of the road, where damages are worsened. These scrambles often cause accidents, and the situation seems to be getting increasingly worse by the day, compelling people to wonder whether anybody cares.
There was a twinkle of hope when officials of the Public Works Ministry announced in March that the Bardnersville road would be among several feeders and neighborhood roads that would be maintained ahead of the current rainy season. The promise later appeared illusive. As the rains came in, the people turned hopeless. Now, they are dejected, feeling rejected. “Maybe they can’t see and feel what we see and feel; so, nobody cares,” Boima Kamara, the middle-aged citizen, quoted at the beginning of this article, riding along with me in the motorbike, contended.
As a result of the deplorable state of the road, most commercial vehicles have ceased plying the route, forcing many citizens to ride motorbikes, against their wills, to Bardnersville Junction from within before joining the bandwagon to jostle for vehicles to central Monrovia, Duala, Redlight and so forth. “The road is too bad. That road is a death trap for our cars, and if your Public WorksMinister can fix it, your who living there will feel it,” one taxi driver sarcastically noted on Monday (June 15) when I asked why they are now stopping at the junction instead of reaching the Estate.
Motorbike riders have increased their fares from around L$40-L$50 to LS$60-L$80, while drivers who dare go there for passengers charge very astronomically, at least L$100 (instead of L$70) to town. It is not stopping there; it’s going up and this is adding up the people’s economic woes.
Many plying the route are asking whether the Ministry of Public Works cares about the situation, since it is responsible for road construction and rehabilitation throughout the country. “This administration of Gyude Moore must not act like Dr. Antoinette Weeks’, which paid deaf ears to the voices and cries of the people during her reign at the Ministry,” stated Anthony P. Wilson, a resident of Bardnersville Estate. “If he will make a remarkable impact, he needs to look at the work of Samuel Kofi Woods who used to ensure that the roads are passable even during the rainy season with all the financial constraints he faced. “Gyude Moore must not sleep so soon; he needs to wake up from his slumber,” he advised.
Many are reminding Moore’s administration to undertake quick impact work on the Bardnersville road by filling out potholes with crushed rocks to make it pliable during the rainy season before anything is done during the dry season.
The Communication Division could neither confirm nor deny whether there is anything afoot for the at most 6km stretch of road. Insiders informed this writer that the Bardnersville Road rehabilitation project was being contracted to a local road construction company, but final contract procedures have to be concluded.
Meanwhile, Public Work seems to be deep into slumber and not hearing the voices of the people, not seeing the bad state of the road, not recognizing the negative social and economic impacts the situation is causing for tens of thousands of citizens. Indeed, rescuing the deplorable Bardnersville Road, can Gyude Moore’s Public Works waked up from its slumber? I am afraid it doesn’t do anything early, the road will cut off. And when this happens, Huuuuuuumm!
About the Author: Danicius Kaihenneh Sengbeh is a respected Liberian journalist, media advocate and defender with practicing experience since 2001. He’s Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia, currently freelancing and blogging. He’s a UN Media Fellow and Award-winning journalist, and has written extensively on infrastructure development. He can be reached via: (0886/0777) 586531 or firstname.lastname@example.org